That’s how similar I am to you. No kidding. My DNA is almost exactly like yours. Those beautifully intricate helixes like billions of spiral staircases, with the rungs made of sparkling neucleotides joined together like pearls on a string. Truly, DNA molecule to DNA molecule, adenine to adenine, thymine to thymine, we’re virtually the same, you and I. Honestly, aren’t you simply thrilled to be like me?
Its only the .1% however, that sets us apart, gives me the jaws of an Atlas, the abs of a Schwarzneggar, the jewels of a Stallone, the sex-appeal of an Apollo, the mind of a Newton, all of which conspire to ensure I have a bank balance of an Ambani. Sorry, but there it is.
In the case of relatives, the .1% gap gets smaller, the closer the relationship is. Of course, there is always a possibility that there is someone on earth who is totally unrelated to you and still his DNA matches yours, hoo-ba-hoo (that’s Indian for ‘exactly’). However, the chances of that happening are one in one billion really. Therefore forensic DNA analysis is believed to be a very reliable tool to identify remains of folk who cannot be otherwise identified.
But then you know how they say that everyone has a double somewhere? So, in case you think you’ve seen me with my arms casually draped over Scarlett Johanssen’s shoulders and you think it isn’t me, you’re wrong. It is me. I don’t have a double. I shot the bastard last year.
Why am I telling you all this? Relax, I’m getting to that. Meanwhile, this is my page and I’ll take my time if I want, ok?
The good thing about DNA testing is that all cells in your body have exactly identical DNA. So, samples can be drawn from anywhere, blood, hair, skin, bone, tissues, fluids, nails. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been dead centuries, your DNA is still there, clearly identifiable. First a ‘DNA fingerprint’ is created in a lab, from the sample. This fingerprint is then matched against the second sample, the one you want to identify. The more the number of samples tested, the more accurate is the result.
But you must already know all this. That’s the downside of having smart friends, knowledgeable folk, brimming with stuff inside their knockers. You can’t tell them nothin’ that they already don’t know.
DNA forensics just reminded me, did you hear that they’ve been able to confirm that the skeletal remains they found under a car park in Leicester, England, are really King Richard the Third’s? Don’t confuse him with Richard-I, a.k.a. Richard the Lionheart, of the Robin Hood/Prince John fame. That was way way back in the mid-1100s, during the early days of the crusades, sorcerers and chastity belts. That reminds me, I must write about them belts some time, especially the ones that had snapping saw-teeth on them. Maybe I’ll name my piece ‘the Milky Way’ or something. Those days they called an arsehole ‘ærshol’ and breasts ‘brœsts’. They loved joining vowels together. Sex may have been sæx for all you know. Hard-ons, I’ll bet a couple of smackeroos, were hærd-ons and I won’t lose any sleep over what a cœck might have meant.
Heck, who cares as long as they had a bæll with all those bonny wenches. Bæll. I’m beginning to feel like one of those anglo-saxons. They must have had a few brown ones.
Richard-III (b1452-d1485) had one of the shortest reigns in history, but over 500 years later he is still one of the most talked about English monarchs. I’ve been reading about him since I was six. I’m kidding. I came to know of Richard III from an elder cousin, Bomkeshda, who insisted on quoting the Willie Shakespeare play to me, chapter and verse, when I was only six. Richard’s father, King Henry VI, had his skull split in two in the Wars of the Roses around 1460, a 30-year long series of civil wars. They had them all the time then. Some Duke was always trying to pull a mickey on some other Duke. Richard was just eight then.
Those days, much of the wars were fought in close proximity, hand-to-hand combat. Those were not very ideal times to be a wimp, let me tell you. If you were wounded, its most likely you’d succumb to your injuries and you were in the minority if you lived beyond 35. And if you did, you killed and bludgeoned your way to the throne. You poisoned your stepmother, had your Dukes beheaded, your sisters poisoned, your brothers drawn and quartered. You had your wife beheaded if she didn’t come up with a male heir. Beheading was to medieval England what drone strikes are to the CIA. As if that wasn’t enough, Machiavellian ministers filled your ears with lies about treachery by your close confidantes so you’d decide to bump them off too. It was all a done thing.
If you were a king in medieval England and had a son, he had only a fifty-fifty chance of growing up and succeeding you to the throne. And if he did grow up, there was a fifty-fifty chance he’d get bored sitting around, waiting for you to die and he’d stage a bloody palace coup, with you ending up in the Tower of London, hoping that the executioner had a steady hand with his axe.
Cut a long story short, Richard’s brother, Edward IV, took the crown after King Henry VI popped it and Richard remained outwardly loyal to his brother all through. Loyal or not, those days, there was a cardinal rule among brothers – when you go off to war, don’t leave your sons under the protection of their uncle (your brother, that is) in case you get your knocker rearranged and you kick it. Clearly Edward IV was a schmuck. Anyone know how they said ‘schmuck’ those days? Schmᵫ¥ck? Be that as it may, Eddie named Dickie protector of his two young sons and heirs upon his death.
When Edward VI died in battle, historians claim (without any definite proof) that Richard promptly made the two sons disappear and took the throne himself, no qæstions asked . Uh oh, did you notice the old English creeping into my writing? Think I’ll maybe get me a scielsen, have me some sæx, live in cynn. In case you would like to have fun with old English words on your own, I found them at the following link:
Richard, though thought to be a wicked guy, turned out to be not so bad a fella after all. He passed significant legal reforms to protect the commoners, many of which, like bail and court-appointed counsel, remain in place today. He further had all laws translated from French and rewritten in English so everyone would be able to understand them it.
We’re however, more familiar with the depiction of Richard as a sinister creep, twisted- both, physically and emotionally. Shakespeare led the way in vilifying the poor fellow, making him look like a hunchback with a ‘withered arm’. At one point, according to Willie the Shake’s play, Richard says in anguish,
“..Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up
And that so lamely and unfashionable
The dogs bark at me when I halt by them….”
Richard’s short reign came to an abrupt end at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. At the height of the battle, deserted by his closest lieutenants, he fell to the swords of the victor, Henry Tudor’s soldiers. Henry became King Henry VII and the Wars of the Roses ended soon after. Reign passed from the House of York to the House of Tudors. Dick was the last English king to die in battle and they say that, with his passing, the middle ages officially ended.
Historians in the immediate aftermath of his killing, stoked by the Tudor propaganda machine and this pro-Tudor guy with the gift of the gab, by the name of Sir Thomas More and a melodrama-seeking William Shakespeare, began depicting him as a hunchback, an ogre with slanted scheming eyes, who would stop at nothing to get to the throne, including having his nephews, the rightful heirs, disappear. Researchers say that the reports of him being grotesquely deformed were exaggerated. Medieval England perhaps found it easier to despise a guy and to brand him as evil if he was physically ugly and deformed. Maybe he just had a split personality. Who gives a shit anyway?
Because he was generally despised, Richard did not receive the noble burial of a king. He was stripped naked on the battlefield and carried off on the back of a horse, his final resting place remaining a mystery for many centuries. Meanwhile research to locate living descendants led researchers to a deceased Canadian woman whose son, the 17th generation after the ruler, provided his DNA in August 2012 which could be matched against any remains that were unearthed.
In September, 2012, skeletal remains were dug up from under a car park in Leicester. Initially, circumstantial evidence suggested that this skeleton could belong to Richard III. The bent spine, short stature, multiple head wounds, all pointed to Dick. The DNA from the skeleton was a match and its now confirmed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the bag of bones is in fact Dickie. Though for the love of me, I can’t understand how a relative 17 times removed can be a perfect match ‘beyond doubt’.
But even if his remains have been found, it’s likely that the speculation about this intriguing medieval king will continue for years to come. Richard III was the most reviled king in English history. The Tudor propaganda machine and the denunciation by Willie Shakes turned this king into an ogre, the hunchbacked tyrant of myth. BBC History says, “…. the historical Richard is a dim figure about whom even the most learned historians know very little for certain. He can’t compete with the compelling vitality of Shakespeare’s deformed villain. We don’t know whether Shakespeare swallowed More’s version of Richard uncritically, or whether he merely thought it offered irresistible dramatic material, and was unconcerned about historical accuracy. What is undeniable is that it is Shakespeare’s Richard who has imprinted himself on our imagination…..”
Hope they’ll give the poor sod a decent burial now.